Nonprofit Network Blog

Job Descriptions: Volunteers Need Them Too!

Thursday, February 06, 2020 1:00 PM | Tracey Wilson (Administrator)


Laura Fuller

Capacity Builder ~ Laura@NonprofNetwork.org

Hopefully everyone knows that if they have a job, they should also have a position description.  But there are some people out there who don’t know that volunteers need them, too.  And having "position descriptions" for your volunteers will make recruiting them a LOT easier!

Why? Well, there are several reasons.

How many times have you been asked to do something as a volunteer, but the request was vague, or open-ended.  Maybe you agreed to it, maybe you didn’t, but regardless, you had no real idea what you were being asked to do?

I remember my first time volunteering.  It was in high school.  Our high school required we perform a certain number of community service hours to graduate.  I loved animals (still do!) and so I volunteered to groom dogs at the local shelter.  I thought I’d be brushing them so that they’d look better for potential adopters.  NOPE!  My main job was to wash the matted feces out of dogs in the holding pens they had there for animal abuse cases. 

I thought I would get to have some fun, interact with people looking for a pet, and play with the dogs.  I did not know I would spend my time getting soaking wet, covered in hair and "other stuff", and bathing dogs that didn’t like being touched, never-mind bathed. And all this took place in the isolated cold back part of the shelter. Fun way to spend a Saturday, right?  Not to mention the attachments I formed with these neglected animals, only to have them, more often than not, returned to their same situations, but at least a lot cleaner.

Had I known all this going in, I would have probably passed on the opportunity. 

Now, you may be thinking it smart not to tell people about the unpleasant parts of their volunteer commitment, because then they’re more likely to agree to volunteer.  But what does it get you to have an unhappy volunteer who then tells other people that they’re unhappy volunteering for you? Sure, even bad publicity is still publicity, but it isn’t the kind a nonprofit wants!

Try and remember, different people have different things they consider unpleasant.  So while I wasn't one to prefer being alone with a dog giving it a bath, I maybe would have preferred cleaning kennels where I could talk to people.  Then their are people who would prefer only paperwork, and then the people who very much like talking on the phone. 

Putting the lists of tasks you need your volunteers to do in a position description along with a possible time-frame to be assigned to those tasks would mean much better recruitment.  People can then make an informed decision, know what they are agreeing to, and hopefully give you positive GOOD publicity out of it.  A happy volunteer, after all, is one of your absolute best recruitment tools!

So, spend some time.  Write those position descriptions.  Carry them with you and share them widely.  You’ll be glad you did.

Don't miss - Volunteer Coordinator Networking - March 26th 8AM


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